Luminary Bakery: helping disadvantaged women and making great cinnamon swirls

Luminary Bakery. Pic: Luminary Bakery

Independent non-profit business Luminary Bakery is one of a kind in London.

Aiming to provide training for women coming from disadvantaged backgrounds, Luminary Bakery has a unique approach to empower women: through bakery classes.

Tucked away in a quiet street near busy Kingsland Road, Luminary Bakery has attracted many local people in Stoke Newington willing to purchase bread and cakes with a purpose to support this special cause.

Alice Williams, the founder of Luminary told Eastlondonlines: “The inspiration for Luminary came from meeting women in East London who were experiencing disadvantage and hustling to get by.”

“Getting to know them, hear the story behind their life, the daily struggles they faced helped me to understand that someone has to give them a chance. We choose to settle in Hackney to benefit women in East London specifically because of the deprivation levels.

“The high level of deprivation that most women are facing in East London makes it so difficult for them to find a job,” Williams told ELL.

“Imagine being a single mother that has survived domestic or sexual violence, or trying to find a job when living in poverty has led to you getting a criminal record? I’ve met lots of women in East London living in these situations and I understood how hard and overwhelming it was for them to get into work, they face so many barriers! The Luminary concept generated after speaking with those women.”

Williams said she wanted to set up something that will help women to start building their career and went for baking as she saw it as “a therapeutic activity” for the women to engage with.

“We launched the bakery in 2013. After working for Kahaila, another charity non-profit cafe on Brick Lane for more than two years I had the inspiration to launch the programme intended to welcome disadvantaged women from all over East London.”

“There are currently 180,000 unemployed women in London,” said Williams.

“This is a significant number that keeps increasing and with our program, we try at our pace to make a difference. We train seven women at a time through our employability program. Women are employed for at least six months part-time both in the shop and in the bakery. It covers baking skills, food hygiene and personal development. We offer courses, work experience and paid employment within our bakery.

“We provide a safe and professional environment where women can grow holistically – encouraging ambition, restoration and second chances. Baking is a tool that is aiming to take women on a journey to employability and entrepreneurship, equipping them with practical and transferable skills for the working world.”

Inside the bakery shop: Pic: Luminary Bakery Team

Williams told ELL that she had met many women who came to Luminary Bakery since it was launched in 2013 but one of them stood out:

“Her name is Hamilot and before coming to Luminary, she had experienced a range of disadvantages and violence since she was a child.

“During the course of the baking program, Halimot gained a lot of confidence and skills that eventually pushed her to launch her own catering company.

“She said that the Luminary helped her to heal and that it was for her ‘a second chance at life’. Success stories like this really motivate us to continue what we do.”

Williams said Hackney was a diverse and vibrant place in London and deprivation was decreasing in the area. But she said there were still a lot of disadvantages for women who needed more opportunities.

In addition to providing jobs to disadvantaged women and offering them a chance to find a new path at life, Luminary cakes are worth to mention: the cinnamon swirls have been rated 5/5 by BOROUGH MARKET’S chefs.

The top-rated cinnamon swirls. Pic: Luminary Bakery Team

Luminary Bakery can be found at 71-73 Allen Road, Stoke Newington, N16 8RY and are open every day of the week.

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